Coffee With Council

Published 5:21 pm Monday, July 15, 2013

Have advice for Washington’s mayor and City Council? Have questions about some city services or programs?

Attending Coffee With Council, tentatively scheduled for 8 a.m. July 30 at Grub Brothers Eatery in downtown Washington, might be just your cup of tea — make that coffee.

Coffee With Council, an occasional town hall-style meeting conducted by the mayor and council, provides opportunities for city residents and merchants to learn more about city government, submit complaints regarding city government or discuss city-related issues they believe are important. Coffee with Council is sponsored by the Washington Harbor District Alliance with assistance from the city.

Councilman Bobby Roberson said the Coffee With Council meetings provide valuable input from the public to the council.

“I think it’s a great approach for us. In the business world, most of them inside the city’s central business district are small-business people. They don’t have the staff, quite frankly, a lot of times to come to these (council) meetings at night because they’re worn out,” Roberson said. “So for us, it’s great opportunity to react with local businesses to find out what their issues are and what we can do to help them … in a downward economic turn. It’s important for us to exchange ideas and comments. That way, they don’t have to come up before the City Council and make a formal request. They can do it in an informal setting at these Coffee With Council meetings.”

The Coffee With Council meetings also provide opportunities for the council and city staff to meet some of the new business owners who have set up shop in the central business district, Roberson said. Roberson said he had never met the owner of Zaitona (a new downtown restaurant) until the most-recent Coffee With Council was held there.

Topics at previous Coffee With Council events included downtown/waterfront improvements, the Turnage Theater and finding ways to prevent owners of vacant downtown buildings from neglecting them to the point they deteriorate. The city manager and some city department heads usually attend Coffee With Council events, taking notes on issues discussed and providing input and relevant information on subjects that surface at the meetings.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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